white united airlines plane

Seven Flights in Three Days


This is a writing about a disappointing experience with airline travel. I was helping the travelers who went through the experience described here. Over three days they had seven flights, with one of the seven having reached the airport, but unable to land due to a regional power outage impacting the airport.

Initial Ticket Purchase

Initially a non-stop flight from Chicago to Delhi was purchased, with a slight seat upgrade to avoid sitting in cramped economy seats for the 14 hour flight. The non-stop flight cost was a bit more than a flight with multiple stops.

Flight Cancelled

Many weeks prior to the departure date, the airline cancelled the non-stop flight and substituted it with a 1-stop flight which would be Chicago to Newark, then Newark to Delhi. There was to be a 5-hour layover. There was no reimbursement for the downgrade from a non-stop flight to a 1-stop flight. Having an intermediary stop always increases the chances of delays or problems with connecting flights.


Cedar Rapids to Chicago

A free itinerary change was offered as compensation for the change in flight plans, and surprisingly, the airline was willing to add a Cedar Rapids to Chicago flight to the itinerary at no extra cost. That would save a drive to Chicago, but also added in the uncertainly of a timely departure and arrival in Chicago. At least it was some consolation for the downgrade from a nonstop international flight to a 1-stop flight. Thankfully, the Cedar Rapids to Chicago flight was on-time.

Chicago to Newark 5-Hour Delay

The Chicago flight was so late in departing that the flight arrived in Newark with a 5-hour delay. As the plane from Chicago was arriving in Newark, the plane to Delhi was taking off.

Another Chicago to Newark flight that was scheduled for later in the day had actually been on-time and could have reached the connecting flight on time. It’s always frustrating to know that another option was available that could have worked.

Overnight Stay in Newark

Because of the flight delay and missed connection, the airline provided a hotel voucher to stay near the airport in Newark. The voucher covered only a portion of the hotel cost.

Day 2

Newark to Montreal

The only remaining flights from Newark to Delhi were multi-stop flights that would go through Europe to change planes for a flight headed to Delhi. Some of the travel options had two-stops including one domestic airport and then a European airport before continuing to Delhi. These stops would include changing airplanes with short layovers in foreign countries which were likely to result in more missed connections.

A direct flight from Montreal to Delhi was available and seemed like the best option. The airline was willing to arrange whatever itinerary was preferred and offered a Newark to Montreal flight to catch the non-stop flight from Montreal to Delhi. So, this option was selected.

Montreal to Burlington

The flight to Montreal came close to the Montreal airport, but never touched down. It circled above the airport about 6 times and then was re-routed to Burlington, Vermont.

It had been impossible to land in Montreal due to power outages caused by excessive air conditioner use which shut down a region of Canada that included the power to the airport and more than 200,000 people.

The excessive air conditioner use by people in the area was a result of historically high unbearable high temperatures in Canada. The airplane landed in Burlington, and then sat on the runway awaiting further instructions from air traffic control.

Burlington to Montreal

Once emergency power was provided to the Montreal airport, it was possible for the plane to return to Montreal. However, the significant delay due to rerouting resulted in a very short connecting time in Montreal. At this point the remaining connections in India would not be feasible. It made most sense to just travel back to Iowa and plan a trip for later with a direct flight, as was originally requested.

Overnight Stay in Montreal

It was necessary to stay overnight in Montreal since no other departing flights were available. Even though it was just after 5PM, all the airline staff had left the desks, presumably the airport had mostly cleared out due to the power outage. The lack of staff at the airport made it difficult to get assistance or arrange for a hotel. Eventually hotel accommodations were established without any help from the airline. Navigating at night in a mostly French-speaking city was a challenge, but ultimately there was an overnight stay at a hotel.

Day 3

Montreal to Chicago

The flight from Montreal to Chicago was anticipated to arrive within an hour of the departing Chicago to Cedar Rapids flight. Given the experience so far, there was some hesitancy in trusting that there would be sufficient time to make the connecting flight.

The flight arrived in Chicago later than expected. Only with the assistance of airline staff providing rapid transit through the airport was it possible to make the connecting flight to Cedar Rapids.

With very little time to spare, boarding of the Chicago to Cedar Rapids flight was achieved.

Chicago to Cedar Rapids

The flight from Chicago to Cedar Rapids was on-time and arrived without any issues.

Lost Luggage

Both checked bags were tagged and were properly updated to reflect Cedar Rapids as the ultimate destination. However, only one bag arrived in Cedar Rapids. The other was recorded as still being in Newark. A request was made to have the bag delivered. The airline promised to make arrangements for the bag to be brought to the home.

Three Hour Wait Times

Throughout the three-day ordeal, there were numerous times when it was necessary to contact the airlines. The quickest way to get support from the airline was with online chat. Due to “an unexpectedly high number of requests” the wait time was sometimes estimated as three hours before communicating with a customer service representative. This made it hard to get service in a timely manner, resulting in more delays and problems.

Day 4

Cryptic Text Message

The following day, a text message was received from an unknown number, without any identification as to who the sender was.

The message stated:

  • “Your delivery is on the way. You can visit https://a1234.app.goo.gl/ABCDE to view your delivery tracking information.”

The link was actually slightly different than what is shown above. The letters and numbers were different.

Since the sender didn’t identify who they were, and the message didn’t indicate what the delivery was, and the link to be clicked was not a valid shipper or business, it seemed like a scam. So, after taking a screenshot, it seemed best to choose the option to “Report Junk” and delete.

Using a secured off-site computer, it was possible to check the link. It did not work.

Bag Delivery Issues

The third-party baggage delivery company stated that they arrived at the home with the bag, but nobody was home so they couldn’t leave the bag.

There actually were many people at home the entire day, looking out the door and awaiting a promised phone call prior to delivery.

Another notation stated that the bag was actually delivered and had been left at the residence earlier.

Subsequent communications stated the bag would arrive by 10 PM.

The bag didn’t arrive.

It was finally delivered the following day.

Over 20 major airlines contract with HomeServ — an independent company that operates a website called “Where’s My Suitcase.” This is the company that was supposed to deliver the bag.

This is an excerpt from the About page for the delivery company:

  • “HomeServ provides total delivery solutions by developing strong and mutually beneficial relationships with our partners. … our management team understands how to meet individualized delivery needs with integrated and customized technology solutions.” [Source]

The company has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau and an average of 1.45 stars out of 5 based on customer reviews and complaints. [Source] Here are a few examples of the 1-star reviews:

  • “The tracking number they gave us to follow up on wheres my suitcase, did NOT work. The website did not accept the tracking number. … Wheres My Suitcase appears to be a scam.” (2 Jul 2023)
  • “Complete absence of service. No way of contacting them. Their website offers no information. By using them Airlines show their complete disregard for their customers” (19 Feb 2023)
  • “My experience is exactly like several others here. American Airlines turned my luggage over to this company 48 hours ago. They promised delivery that same night (Monday). It is now Wednesday. They do not respond to email and have no posted phone number.” (27 Jul 2022)
  • “Two bags were left on our doorstep on July 13th by wheresmysuitcase, but they reported to Air France that they delivered three. There was a phone number on the yellow tag; called several times, and the employee says all three bags were delivered because that’s what shows on their tracker. They got no signature because our only contact was a text, not a ring of the doorbell.” (19 Jul 2022)
  • “Same issues as other reviews. No way to contact, questionable service people. I filled out the “waive signature” in the email that was sent to me, and asked them to drop my bag at the door because I was going to be on calls. All of that info was confirmed by them to me. Then around time of bag showing up I get 2 calls and an email from the driver from his random number asking me for a tip when he arrives and telling me that he won’t leave my bag unless I am there. Totally shady and disruptive.” (19 Jul 2022)
  • “This company needs to be investigated for fraud. There isn’t any way to contact the company. Worldtracer indicated that 3 of my bags were assigned for delivery and picked up by this company for delivery. They only delivered 2 bags and the driver said he didn’t have the other bag. The whereismysuitcase.com emails and website tracker indicated they had 3 in route, however only 2 showed up. There is no accountability and the airline could not reach the company. It is a dead end without any resolution. There is clearly a point where the bag went missing and it’s when the third party (whereismysuitcase.com) took possession. They do not respond to their customer service emails or have any way of communicating with their contractor or the owner of the baggage. It appears that the airlines are not vetting these third parties and fraudulent activity is happening at Whereismysuitcase.com” (15 Jul 2022)
  • “Terrible company. My bag was pick up from the airport on 6/24 and it is 6/28 and I have not received my bag, there is no longer and tracking info available, and no phone number to call with any questions.” (28 Jun 2022)
  • “The company has no public phone number and does not respond to emails. It is very likely that they may have stolen my luggage, but how could I know? American Airlines reps have told me they cannot contact this company. Unbelievable and unethical, if not downright illegal.” (22 Jun 2022)
  • “My bag was delayed into LGA on a Monday night. The wheresmysuitcase.com web site announces that the bag would be picked up by noon on Tuesday and delivered by 5:00 that day. As of Wednesday morning the bag had still not been picked up, but the web site continued to advise that it “will be delivered” by 5:00 on Tuesday. Ditto for this morning (Thursday).I have an Apple AirTag in the bag. It shows that the bag has left the airport but has been delivered to an address in Queens. I am in Westchester. I will now call be calling the police to report the theft. No airline should ever consider using this company.” (6 Jan 2022)


There are so many details to the above saga. It exemplifies the poor state of customer service and logistics today. The aspects of the delays caused by extreme weather conditions offer insight into what to expect in the future as climate extremes impact various aspects of society.

The airline industrial complex is too big to fail, but also too big to succeed. There’s seemingly nothing that individual consumers or legislators or government agencies can do to improve the situation.

There are many other key industries globally that are strained and failing, with stories similar to the ones above in healthcare, education, and other professions. Automated systems with humans no longer in the loop have resulted in runaway technology that nobody seems to be able to improve or replace.

Positive Business Models

Efforts have been made to incorporate human-centric principles and practices into business operations. The Triple Bottom Line refers to business placing the planet and people above profits. The rise of B Corporations places attention on the ways businesses can have a more positive impact in the world.

There’s a fork in the road that businesses encounter at some point:

  • OPTION #1 — Will a business take the path of maximizing profits? Some companies are still in a hyper-greed mode causing harm to the planet, employees, and consumers. They create stress, harm, loss, and waste. Someone at the top of the pyramid benefits. Everyone else suffers.
  • OPTION #2 — Another path is to pursue maximizing product quality, service quality, consumer safety, environmental stewardship, customer service excellence, and other things that make the world better? This can be referred to as “business forward” — a model where business improves society.

Until the airline industry is able to fully shift to the more humane, ethical, and beneficial business approach, conditions will likely remain the same or get worse.

people discuss about graphs and rates

Consumer News Report — Oct 2022


I’ve had a longtime interest in consumer issues. For many years I operated a consumer advocacy service. In the past, I would encounter an interesting consumer rights case every few months. Now there are sometimes several incidents per week just of my own experiences. I plan to periodically write a summary of encounters that seem worth sharing.

Past Successes

One success I’m proud of is taking on Apple about 10 years ago, in April 2003 when they launched their music service which advertised songs for 99-cents. Many songs were available 99-cents, but some were overpriced. To purchase the song “American Pie” it was necessary to buy the entire album for about $10. I successfully negotiated with the Apple in-house legal counsel to make “American Pie” available for 99-cents to everyone. There was no personal award or benefit to me, other than the satisfaction of the accomplishment. I had other similar victories over the years.

More Difficult to Win

As you’ll read below, it’s become much more difficult to win in cases that should really require little time and effort. These are cases where a customer is clearly being exploited and abused by companies that put profits over people.

Brokerage Firm OVERCHARGE

A few years ago, I signed up for an app that made micro investments possible. Fractions of stock could be purchased without fees. In June 2022, the company announced a plan to begin charging a monthly fee, and perhaps other fees. Existing long-time members were given an opportunity to pay a one-time lifetime membership of about $20 to avoid the monthly fees. I paid the $20 in June.

In September, a few months later, they began charging me a monthly fee. Since I’d paid for the lifetime membership, I requested a refund for the monthly fee.

They agreed to close my account, and sent me the remaining balance, but said they could not refund the membership fee.

I explained that there should not have been a monthly fee charged since I had signed up for the lifetime membership. They agreed the charges theoretically should be refunded, but said they couldn’t provide a refund since my account was closed.

After pressuring them on the matter, they finally agreed to look into the matter and offered to send a check payment. I’m still waiting to receive the check.


This past summer, I signed up for an upgraded credit card that would provide some useful travel benefits exceeding the annual membership cost. This is a global banking institution — not a recent startup or travel membership club.

I was told the annual fee would be waived for the first year. In September, a few months after having received the new card branding, a bill for $250 showed up on the account. I contacted the bank and was told the $250 was an annual cardmember fee. I explained that the representative who upgraded our account said the membership fee would be waived for the first year.

I asked for a refund of the $250, since I was promised there would be no member fee for a year. I wanted to just downgrade the card. I was told that I could not receive a refund, and that the free first year only applied with new accounts. I explained that it wasn’t my fault if I was told incorrect information when the account was upgraded. Given the unusual situation, I asked permission to record the phone call since a dispute would undoubtedly be required.

I was then told that I could not record the call. The representative said they personally would be fine if I recorded the call, but there is a company policy that says consumers can not have any recording of a conversation with a customer service representative.

I explained that I had asked permission to record the previous call in June 2022, and was given permission to record the call, and that I had a recording of that call which included the promise of no member fees for one year.

I explained that not allowing a consumer to make an approved recording of a discussion seemed to be a violation of consumer rights since the company records all calls for their internal use. It would put a customer at a disadvantage. I explained that I planned to pursue that separately as a customer rights issue.

A few minutes later I was told the policy had been changed and that recordings of calls by customers would be okay. I asked where I could find this in writing online, and was told it’s not in writing online for anyone to see, but only internally viewable as policy. Then I was told I could record the phone call.

Eventually, once the call was being recorded and the customer service representative knew I was not going to let go of the issue easily, I was told that I could receive a credit for the $250, and that I could downgrade the card for no fee.

Only after significant effort was I given a refund of the fee.

Grocery Store Sells Old Food

Last month, after returning home from the grocery store, we noticed that some flour we purchased was going to expire in a few days. The expiration date on this brand of flour is usually 12-months in the future, so that suggests the bag we were sold had been sitting on the store shelf for a year.

I took the bag of flour back to the store for a refund. The person working the checkout register said they could not give me a refund. I explained it was purchased just two days prior and showed my receipt. They explained that it was sold at a discount because it was close to the expiration. Since it was a cooking and baking ingredient, I said it would be unlikely that anyone would use it up in just a few days. At least, we were not going to use it that quickly.

I asked to speak with a manager and explained they are selling year-old bags of flour. The manager said they have a policy of no refunds on marked down clearance items.

I decided to call the corporate offices for the grocery store. I explained what happened and was told that there is never an exception to their no refunds policy. They said I should have known about the no refunds policy because it is printed on the receipt. I explained that once a person has the receipt, it is too late to be informed about a no refunds policy. They said the policy was on a certain page of the company website. I explained that customers are not going to read entire websites to learn about return policies before checking out. They said the policy is printed and displayed at the registers. It isn’t. I have photos. They said the policy is displayed on the shelves where the clearance items are. It isn’t. I have photos. It was a long phone call, and became clear they would not budge on this policy. They agreed to send me a $5 coupon, which is only a fraction of what we were charged. I never received it.

I then reported the incident to the Better Business Bureau. I also pointed out that I’d been charged the full price for the clearance item instead of the price marked on the item. I provided a copy of the receipt and photos documenting the various issues of missing signage. After several days, I received a reply from a representative of the company offering to send $50 as compensation for the year-old bag of flour and to cover my time and effort. I’ve not received anything from the company yet.

Restaurant Grumpy Cook

In September, we went to a restaurant, and one of the cooked items was served cold. We asked the server if it could be heated up and cooked a little bit more. They said they would see what could be done.

We assumed the issue was being taken care of. A short while later, the cook came out to our table, visibly upset, and insisted that the food was cooked.

There was no apology. No offer to cook the food more or heat it up.

It was an unpleasant and unusual situation. I gave the restaurant a fair review based on a number of factors, including some positive aspects, but did mention that odd behavior of the cook.

I looked at some of the 1-star negative reviews for the restaurant and saw that other people had similar experiences there.


Bad consumer experiences are becoming more frequent and worse in severity. We are seeing multiple layers of complex hurdles consumers need to jump through to get problems resolved. Despite being told no several times, eventually if a person perseveres they can get what they rightfully deserve. These problems come from more companies putting profits over people. It harms consumers, harms employees, and harms the long-term respect for the companies that are exploiting people.

I plan to keep reporting on consumer issues from my own experiences.

Learn More

In addition to consumers struggling to get treated fairly, small businesses are also struggling to compete with huge corporations like Amazon that steal product and marketing ideas for unfair advantage. The video below from CNBC on 12 Oct 2022 explains this problem in greater detail.